Posts

O’Brien banks on Santa Barbara in Pretty Polly

Santa Barbara bids to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a sixth victory in the Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Despite having had only one run as a two-year-old, the daughter of Camelot was the subject of a huge ante-post gamble for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket this spring amid reports of sparkling workouts on the gallops at Ballydoyle.

And while Santa Barbara ultimately came up short over the Rowley Mile – finishing a close-up fourth – she was favourite to strike Classic gold at the second time of asking in the Oaks at Epsom, only to be upstaged as her stablemate Snowfall stole the show.

O’Brien hopes a drop back in distance to a mile and a quarter will enable his filly open her account at Group One level this weekend.

He said: “Santa Barbara is in good form and the plan has been to go back to the Pretty Polly with her.

“She’s been in good form since her run in Epsom.

“We think coming back in distance and better ground will be a big help to her.”

Santa Barbara is set to face seven rivals, with Willie McCreery fielding both Epona Plays and Insinuendo.

Epona Plays is a leading contender
Epona Plays is a leading contender (Brian Lawless/PA)

Epona Plays has earned her step up to the top level with wins in the Group Three Park Express and the Group Two Lanwades Stud Stakes, while Insinuendo was last seen landing the Group Three Blue Wind Stakes at Naas in May.

Jessica Harrington fires a three-pronged assault, with Cayenne Pepper joined by stablemates Silence Please and Oodnadatta, while Joseph O’Brien saddles Thundering Nights, who was beaten just a nose in a Group Two in America on her latest appearance.

“Thundering Nights has been a brilliant filly for us and was unlucky not to win a Grade Two at Belmont earlier this month. She was interfered with on the first bend and got a bit further back than ideal,” O’Brien told Betfair.

“She finished off like a train in the closing stages, but came up a nose short. It was a fantastic run and she has come back from it in great shape.

“The big aim of bringing her back into training this year was for her to be competitive in Group One company and her form entitles her to be in the mix in this race. Conditions will suit and hopefully she’ll run a big race.”

The Donnacha O’Brien-trained Shale completes the line-up.

Mystery Angel has the answers in Pretty Polly

Mystery Angel made her race fitness count as she took the Listed spoils in the Betfair Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket.

The daughter of Kodi Bear, having her fourth race of the year, defeated several highly-regarded rivals to enhance her own reputation.

Owned by the Nick Bradley Racing syndicate – who afforded her the loudest cheer of the weekend – she also put her rookie trainer George Boughey in the spotlight, giving the Newmarket-based handler the biggest success of his career to date.

Ridden by Ben Curtis, who was completing a double after winning the previous race with Zabeel Champion, Mystery Angel was always in the front rank.

Forever Grateful led in the early stages until Mystery Angel (13-2) set sail for home some way out.

Sea Karats was the only threat, but she was always playing second fiddle and went down by a length and three quarters.

The first two pulled three and a quarter lengths clear of Taslima in third, while A’Shaari, the 6-4 favourite, was the disappointing horse in the race, finishing fifth.

Bradley said: “I’m a bit lost for words, to be honest.

“When she ran here at the backend of last year she did that (won well) and then we kind of got it wrong.

“Today was on better ground and it was great to see her do that in front of all the owners here on such a big day as we’ve always felt she was a top-class filly.

“You’re only allowed six owners here, but there’s 20-odd owners in this horse.

Mystery Angel has some big-race options now
Mystery Angel has some big-race options now (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I bought her at the breeze-ups here for 22,000 guineas and drove the horsebox home with her in it. By the time I got home, I only owned four per cent of her!

“She’ll probably go for the Group One Prix Saint-Alary, or perhaps the Musidora at York. We’ll have a think.

“She isn’t in the Oaks. We thought 10 furlongs would be her maximum trip as she’s by a sprinter, but we might be wrong.”

Boughey said: “It was a shame not to win in France six weeks ago, but she’s a very tough filly who obviously loves it here at Newmarket.

“I actually worked her on the Summer Gallop about a week ago on what was very fast ground and she worked very well.

“She’s an improving filly who handled the soft and heavy ground last year, but her work had suggested she was actually going to be better on faster ground.

Ben Curtis gave Mystery Angel a fine front-running ride
Ben Curtis gave Mystery Angel a fine front-running ride (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“She’s a filly with a pretty upward profile now. She’s in the Prix Saint-Alary, which she could go for, but the Musidora is another option.

“She’s not in the Oaks, but she’s putting a bit of prize-money in the pot now and it might be something we consider (supplementing). There’s a few nice decisions to make.

“She’s not bred to stay a mile, let alone a mile and a quarter. But the way she won there – galloping through the line – I certainly wouldn’t be against trying her over a mile and a half.”